What are having in common a Profoto B1x, a sledge hammer and a six inches plumber rubber cap?
I invested massively in 2018 into Profoto equipment. I was not having any assistant on my very first photoshoot during this summer. I was in a hurry and I dropped on the concrete one of my Profoto flashes. a B1X that was standing about four feet height on a tripod. The housing was severely damaged.
Here, I just want to share with you some simple tricks I found to repair it. So, it is not a complaint about Profoto, because I really appreciate having their high-end components working like a charm. Profoto has an excellent reputation for many excellent reasons too!
That said, I had first sent an email to Profoto. I was asking for a new housing that I would have changed myself. The support service at Profoto was quick, they referred to me a repair shop in Montreal (Canada) to which I sent the same email, but I never had any follow-up. I then took the initiative to do some work over it myself. And by the way, it was not necessarily a bad thing not to have received a housing for one very good reason: these flashes are using some very high voltage capacitors that can kill you. If you are not very careful, the same thing could happen too to you with a smaller flash like the Nikon SB-5000. I was better to stay away from the electronic parts.
The first picture down here tells it all! It was really bad. Hopefully, The electronic was just fine and remained perfectly working since that time!
I just did a measurement of the Profoto diameter. I measured approximately six inches. After a few days searching for a solution, I found a plumber six inches rubber cap that would perfectly fit over it.
I bought five rubber caps for $50.00, because I have too, two Profoto D2, two B1. I thought that this was a good idea to protect well my investments and it worked. I only had to cut the top of the rubber cap with a Japanese saw. I was a fine violin maker for some years, I was having this saw at hand. I used too a very sharpened knife to cut some extra rubber left. I used a file and some sanding paper to soften the finish and that was it in about three hours. But, my B1X was not fixed yet.
To fix the housing of the B1X, I used some epoxy resin I found at a fine art supply store, I bought too some black pigment, some black painting acrylic and elsewhere I found mid length fiberglass clothes, and car Bondo filler because it is finer than fiberglass and it dries fast and in the last steps, it is easier to get a smoother finishing.
- I had cut the fiberglass clothes into finer particules. You should wear glasses, gloves and a mask when you do this.
- I did some tests with the finely cut fiberglass, mixing it with the epoxy and the black pigment. I spread the mixture over a piece of non-adhesive plastic. When dried overnight, I tested the resistance with different thickness, it was very solid with a thickness of about two to three milimeters. The finished repair was thicker than that.
- I placed a thin sheet of none adhesive plastic into the interstice of the housing, this was to give a physical support to the mixture. I took off this piece of plastic when I had completed one side. I was not looking for a smooth finish at this time, because even if my fiberglass was finely cut, when mixed into the epoxy resin it was remaining pretty textured. So, I worked with it grossly until I was reaching about the right 3D volume and bevel shapes. I was sanding a bit between the application of each layer. I was applying one layer in the morning and another one at night.
- I obtained a smoother result using the Bondo filler, I was still sanding a bit between the layers.
- The final finish was gently applied with a fine art brush, using a mixture of black mat acrylic and the black pigment. And that was it.
The whole process took me a few days and it saved my B1X. I will never rush anymore while being on a photo shoot.
I am thinking too to have some leather installed around the handles of my Profoto flashes.
The few next pictures are simply showing that a non-expensive solution would have at first saved me a lot of trouble. So, in conclusion, my solution is paving the way for the other users of Profoto flashes that would want to better protect their equipment.
Profoto never said that a B1X should be used as a sledge hammer! Indeed! I am very fine with it! I am pretty creative and strong at solving problems, so this problem was a nice opportunity to gather some components and bring an innovative and simple solution, being still pretty nice visually. Have fun now Profotousers!
Finally I am sharing with you, some nice photos I took with my Profoto flashes.
I am using a Nikon D850, with Tamron G2, 24-70 and 70-200.
I am still very happy to use Profoto, it is a real pleasure to work with it each time.
End of the report!
Pierre Bellefeuille (Gatineau, Quebec Canada)
23 March 2019
Do it well or don't do it!
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